Robert B. Jordan, Resident grump
I have spent some time of late reading Facebook posts, reading comments to posts, and reading comments to comments. There is so much narrative by the bright, and the not so bright, the informed and the not so informed, the liberals and the conservatives, the believers and the non-believers, the educated and those that think they are, the free thinkers and those that accede, those that question and those that blindly follow.
The overwhelming sense one gets from this Facebook education is the immense diversity of thoughts and beliefs that exist in our community of human beings; thoughts and beliefs that span the extremes from one end of the subject to the other, and the entire expanse in between
The secondary sense is one of determination expressed by those that want others to see, and agree with their position, and beliefs – to come to the sudden conclusion that they are right and the opposing debater is wrong – to convert to their way of thinking and their interpretation of the subject at hand. This determination manifests itself in the insults, and revilement, and the almost desperate and bullying arguments to prove their point. Admittedly there are those that present an intelligent and well thought out position, although rare.
Religion and Politics Religion and Politics – Politics and Religion – are there any subjects more controversial, more divisive, and more argumentative? These two subjects stir the most disagreements, the most insulting assaults, and the most heated debates. The extremes and diversity can be thought provoking, but sometimes troubling.
What causes this divisiveness? Is it territorial, is it cultural, is it hereditary, is it environmental, is it traditional, is it ignorance, is it intelligence, just what causes it? Or, is it a complicated combination of several elements brewing within each soul?
Fuel for the Fire There certainly is no shortage of fuel for the fire – the mass shootings in Colorado and Wisconsin are subjects for gun control debates, religious debates, and mental health debates. What is the solution here? The folks that do not want any gun control will cite the Second Amendment as their right to bear arms – but isn’t the Second Amendment really about creating and maintaining a militia? Is the Second Amendment relevant today? I’ve heard arguments that under the Second Amendment I could legally own a Howitzer, or a missile launch system, or a bazooka. You can’t keep guns out of the hands of mentally disturbed people, or radicals, no matter how strong the laws are, so what is the solution here, and what of the religious attitudes about these events? Why did God allow it? Which victims did God kill, and which did he chose to save? Was God involved at all?
In the recent election there was volatile fuel for many political and religious debates. The Democrats were all wrong and should be kicked out! The Republicans are evil and should not be let in! There should be a third, and perhaps a fourth, party! You can’t trust politicians! A good many politicians are only interested in their job, not the people’s needs and wants! The Government is broken! The election was rigged! There were millions of illegal voters!
Once again an election choice was the lesser of two evils.
A great source of fuel for the fire are the statements by a number of politicians, like “No one ever died from lack of access to health care,” or “You can keep your current doctor,” or “Read my lips, no more taxes,” or “Rape and incest is the will of God,” or “Andrew Jackson was very angry over the Civil War,” and on and on without limit.
The subjects in the previous paragraphs may bring out more and more postings and more and more respondents. All types of writers described in the first paragraph above will be represented. There will be narrations on all positions, and comments will follow, and then the comments on comments – the debates will rage on.
And that’s good! The last time I looked we still had freedom of speech. Free speech, like the hateful and hurtful, is allowed. Even the little church in Kansas that protests at the funerals of military men and women killed in action, and the extremists that follow the Nazi philosophy and flaunt it openly – all are protected under the First Amendment.
Open and Honest Debate Good open and honest debate is fruitful, and valuable, and encouraged. But, I must admit to a fear of the closed minds, the blind followers and their “determination” attempting to dominate the narration. In last year’s election we were subject to several debates, but they really weren’t debates in the traditional sense. There was very little exchanging of ideas and positions. There was very little arguing of perspectives. Instead of debating the participants engaged in insultathons. Perhaps that was the incentive for today’s Facebook debaters.
Here is a quotation from a book I recently read – its title “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” by Diane Rauitch: “What should we think of someone who never admits error, never entertains doubt but adheres unflinchingly to this same idea all his life, regardless of new evidence? Doubt and skepticism are signs of rationality. When we are too certain of our opinions, we run the risk of ignoring any evidence that conflicts with our views. It is doubt that shows we are still thinking, still willing to reexamine hardened beliefs when confronted with new facts and new evidence.”
On Facebook it is sometimes difficult to distinguish those that are bright from the ones that aren’t so bright.
And by the way – always VOTE, and then PARTICIPATE. This is still “Government for the people BY the people.” Just like Abe Lincoln said.